What’s GoinG on? your guide to growing up

GoinG on?
your guide to
growing up
(for boys and girls)
Changes as you get older
This is a booklet about growing up. As you get older you’ll
notice that your body changes and you develop new
feelings and emotions.This change is called puberty, and
this booklet contains lots of information to help you during
this time.
Puberty is the name for the time when you begin
to change from a child into an adult. It can happen
anytime between 8 and 16. It usually starts earlier
for girls than boys.
This booklet also talks about
relationships. You have relationships
with many different people; your
parents or carers, brothers and
sisters, your friends, your teachers
and other people who you meet
during your life. Your relationships
can help you as you grow up.
Sometimes you might feel excited
to be growing up. That’s great.
Other times you might feel worried
or embarrassed about the changes
that happen during puberty. That’s
okay too.
You might choose to read this
booklet by yourself, or you could
discuss it with your parents or
carers. It’s great to have someone
that you can talk to, especially as
you grow up and experience new
One good thing to remember
is that everyone will have gone
through similar things when they
were around your age, so don’t be
embarrassed to talk to them.
Throughout the booklet you might
come across new or unfamiliar
words. We’ve tried to explain these
whenever we can, but if you’re
unsure ask someone older or try
looking them up in the dictionary.
The last page of the booklet also
gives you information about places
you can look for help and advice.
Puberty starts when extra
amounts of hormones are
made in your body. Hormones
are chemicals that carry
messages around your body.
They cause changes to how
you look and how you feel.
Ellie – on growing up
I thought I was the only girl in my class that
wore a bra and had my period. I remember
being embarrassed about looking more grown
up but soon I found out some of the other
girls had started too. I like that my body is
becoming more like a woman’s.
What happens
during puberty?
It’s important to remember that everyone has a different
experience of puberty and the changes can be different
for each boy and girl. Here are some of the changes that
might happen.
Boys & Girls
Lots of hormones! These cause
new feelings and emotions. You
might start to fancy other people,
feel moody or be more aware of
how you look.
You might sweat more so it’s
important to wash every day.
Girls only
Breasts can start to grow.
One might grow faster than the
other so they can be different
sizes and it’s nothing to worry
about. All women have different
size and shapes of breasts.
Your hips might get more
Your period starts – this is called
menstruation. Read more about
this on page 11.
Maybe you’ll have spots or
greasier hair.
Hair grows under your arms
and on or around your genitals.
All grown-ups have body hair
– that’s natural. Some people
choose to remove it, but that’s
an individual choice.
Ben, 13 – on his first shave
I wanted to shave as I had hair on my top lip
that was really noticeable. I looked stuff up
on the net and bought a shaver and foam.
My uncle came round and showed me the
best way to do it.
Boys only
Your chest and shoulders might get wider.
Your voice can deepen (‘breaks’).
You will start to get hair on your face.
Leg and arm hair gets thicker and you might get
some on your chest and back.
Your penis will start to grow and will sometimes
become hard. This is called an erection.
Your testicles will grow bigger and one may hang
lower than the other. You may also notice that the
texture of the skin on the testicles changes.
You will start to make sperm. Read more about this
on pages 15 and 16.
You might get unexpected erections and wet dreams.
Read more about this on pages 15 and 16.
The tube that carries
urine from the bladder
to outside your body.
Your Body – Girls
You have two ovaries.
They store tiny eggs
and make hormones.
An egg is released each
month from one of the
This is also known as
the neck of the uterus
and is at the top of the
When a woman is pregnant the baby grows and
develops in the uterus (womb). Every month the
lining of the uterus gets thicker in case it’s needed
to look after a growing baby. If the woman is not
pregnant the lining breaks down and comes out
as a period.
A small mound of skin
which is very sensitive
during masturbation or
sexual activity.
Folds of skin, or lips,
that cover the vagina
Fallopian tube:
These tubes carry the
egg from the ovaries to
the uterus.
The name given to all
of a female’s sex parts
that are outside of the
body. Lots of people
use the term vagina,
although the vagina is
inside the body.
Passageway between the uterus and the outside
of the body. This is where menstrual fluid comes
from during your period, where a penis enters
during penetrative sex and the birth canal
through which a baby is born.
The opening where
faeces (poo) leaves
your body.
The tube inside your
penis that carries urine
from the bladder to
outside your body and
carries semen when
you ejaculate.
Your Body – Boys
The sensitive
structure at
the top of the
You have two testicles/
testes (held inside a bag
of skin called a scrotum).
They make sperm and
Seminal Vesicle
A pair of small tubular
glands that produce
fluid, which makes up
part of semen.
Sperm duct
and glands:
The sperm duct is just
below your bladder
and carries sperm
from the testes to the
urethra. As the sperm
passes through the
sperm duct it mixes
with fluids produced by
glands. This mixture is
called semen.
The bladder collects
urine from the kidneys
before disposal by
Prostate Gland
Produces a
thick white fluid
called semen
that mixes
with the sperm
produced by the
This is used to pee and
for penetrative sex.
The size and shape
of a penis can vary
from man to man and
an un-erect penis is
smaller than an erect
The skin which covers the tip of your penis.
Foreskins can be different sizes. Some can be
pulled far down from the tip of the penis and
others just a small bit. Some men have this
removed for religious or medical reasons.
You have two testicles/
testes (held inside a
bag of skin called a
scrotum). They make
sperm and hormones.
Keeping Clean
During puberty you might have hair growing in new places,
sweat more, have hair that feels oilier or be worried about
spots. Keeping clean is easy and can help you to feel
confident about yourself.
Wash your body – especially
under your arms and between
your legs every day.
Uncircumcised boys should take
care to wash and dry behind the
foreskin of the penis every day. A
white substance called smegma
can collect there and if left too
long can begin to smell.
Shampoo your hair.
Shower after playing sport or
taking part in exercise.
Change your underwear daily.
Using deodorant or antiperspirant
under your arms after showering
or having a bath can help prevent
body odour (B.O.)
Girls – during your period change
your sanitary towel or tampon
regularly i.e. every few hours.
Boys - if you have a wet dream,
change your pyjama bottoms and
take a shower when you get up.
I wash my face all the time and
still have loads of spots! What am
I doing wrong!? John
Spots happen naturally when you’re growing
up – especially during puberty, because of
all the extra hormones in your body. Some
things can help like eating fruit and vegetables
and washing your face in the morning and
at night. If you’re still worried speak to your
doctor or go to a chemist about advice on the
many treatments available.
Menstruation (Periods)
Menstruation is one important sign that a girl is growing
up. It happens when a tiny egg is released from one of
the ovaries. As this happens, the lining of the uterus gets
thicker to get ready for pregnancy. If the egg meets a
sperm it attaches itself to the lining and grows into a baby.
If it doesn’t, then the egg and the lining leave the vagina
as menstrual fluid and this can look like blood. This is
known as menstruation or a period. It usually lasts a few
days and the menstrual fluid can be red or brown.
At first, your periods can be irregular
– this means the time between
them is different. After a while this
will settle down and you will know
roughly when your next period is
due to start. Most likely it will start
about a month after your previous
Did you know that girls are
born with all the eggs in their
ovaries that they’ll ever need?
Jenny - on her first period
My mum told me all about periods and what to
expect. I was a bit worried about getting them
and everyone at school knowing. She told me
not to worry, that it doesn’t come out in a big
gush and to carry sanitary pads and a spare
pair of knickers in my bag just in case. When I
eventually got my period I was well prepared.
how will i know if i’m
getting my period?
Keeping clean
during your period
Some girls get signs their period is coming soon and others
don’t. You might just find a small amount of menstrual
fluid on your pants one day, and that’s how you will know
your period has started.
Sanitary pads and tampons can be used during your
period to keep you clean and stop menstrual fluid getting
onto your pants. You can buy them in any supermarket or
Some signs you might get before
your period:
Sanitary pads stick to your pants
and soak up the menstrual fluid as
it leaves your body. Tampons look
like a rolled up piece of cotton wool
which you place inside your vagina
to soak up the menstrual fluid.
breasts may feel tender
and/or get a bit bigger
spots on your face
pains in your tummy
feeling moody, irritated or
weepy – this is called P.M.S.
(pre-menstrual syndrome)
There are lots of things you can do
to make yourself feel better. The
best thing you can do is get out and
about and stay active.
Remember all women have
periods so it’s normal to talk
to your mum, sister, aunt or
friends about them!
Whichever you decide to use, it’s
important to change them regularly
and keep clean. It’s also a good idea
to carry sanitary pads in your bag for
when your period starts.
I’ve heard you can’t use tampons
till you’re older. Is that right?
Katy, 11
There’s no right or wrong age to use tampons.
Whether to use tampons or sanitary pads is a
personal choice. Why not chat to your mum/
carer about it? Some girls find sanitary pads
easier to use and others prefer tampons as it
means they can still do things like swimming.
When you’re an adult, you might decide that you want
to have a baby. The name given to how a baby is made
is reproduction.
A man’s sperm and a woman’s egg
need to meet for a baby to be made.
About once a month in a woman’s
body, a tiny egg leaves one of the
ovaries and goes down a tube to
the uterus. If the egg meets and
joins with a sperm (fertilisation) it
can grow into a baby. This is called
The egg and sperm can meet when
a man’s penis enters a woman’s
vagina during penetrative sex and
semen (which includes sperm) is
released. As well as the way to make
babies, penetrative sex is a way for
some adults to enjoy their own and
others’ bodies and show they care
for one another.
A baby takes around 9 months
to grow in a woman’s uterus.
When it’s ready to come out
it moves down through the
vagina and the woman gives
Wet dreams
Some boys have wet dreams. A wet dream is when a
boy ejaculates while asleep – it’s also called a nocturnal
emission. Ejaculation is when semen comes out of a boy’s
erect penis.
Wet dreams are completely normal
and happen to lots of boys, so
there’s no need to be embarrassed
if it happens to you.
Wet dreams can be a bit
messy. So you might need to
get washed, and change your
pyjama bottoms or sheets.
Pete - on wet dreams
I was really embarrassed but my dad was
great about it. He helped me get some clean
sheets and explained that it’s totally normal
and there was no need to worry. That made
me feel a lot better.
If the egg doesn’t meet with a
sperm, it leaves the woman’s body
during menstruation (a period). For
more information on periods see
pages 11-13.
Unexpected erections
Getting an erection when you don’t expect it is very
common during puberty. An erection is when the blood
vessels in the penis fill up and it becomes hard. While it
can be embarrassing, remember that it’s totally natural
and happens to all boys.
Masturbating is when a girl or boy touches their body in
a way which makes them feel good. For boys this often
involves rubbing the penis and for girls rubbing the area
around her clitoris. However it can be any part of the body
which feels nice when touched.
Tips for dealing with it:
Sometimes when you’re
masturbating you can have an
orgasm. This is when you get a
feeling of intense pleasure.
Stay seated or cover it with a
bag or jumper until it goes away.
Try to concentrate on something
While it can be embarrassing,
remember that it’s totally
natural and happens to all
Wear clothes that will make it
less obvious.
If people notice, try to laugh it off.
Masturbating is a normal and
healthy way to explore your own
body and find out what feels nice
for you.
It’s okay to masturbate as long as
you do this somewhere private like
your bedroom or bathroom.
Different kinds
of relationships
As you grow up you have lots of different kinds of
relationships with lots of different people. This includes
friendships, the relationships you have with your parents
and family, and those you have with other people in
your life.
Friendships in particular are really
great. As you grow up you’ll probably
make loads of new friends. Some
friendships are really close and will
last all your life, and others will last
only a short time before you both
move on. Having a good friend
means you have someone to talk to,
to ask advice and to spend time and
have a laugh with.
Sometimes you can develop strong
feelings for someone and feel really
attracted to them. This can be called
fancying them. It’s one of the fun
things about getting older.
You might fancy someone in your
class or school, an actor, sports
person or a pop star. You might even
think you fancy adults like a family
friend or a teacher. This is a normal
part of growing up.
Lots of young people growing up
have dreams or strong feelings
about someone who is the same sex
as them. This is quite normal and
doesn’t always mean that they are
gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Some people are lesbian, gay or bisexual. Being lesbian or gay
means that you’re attracted to people of the same sex. Being
bisexual means being attracted to both sexes. You might already
know some people who are lesbian, gay or bisexual - maybe in
your family or one of your friends. It doesn’t matter who we are
attracted to – what counts is treating everyone with respect.
Fancying people is fun and
exciting, though it can sometimes
make you feel nervous or uneasy.
Some things to remember are:
The relationships you have with
your friends and family are just
as important as the person you
Although you might think your
feelings will last forever, normally
they don’t, and you move on.
Be yourself and you’ll probably
find that people are attracted
to you.
Whatever you’re feeling, talking
to someone you trust can help.
sexuality and
sexual health
When people talk about sexuality they mean things like
relationships, emotions, feelings of attraction to other
people and sexual activity. Information on all of these
things is included in this booklet.
Everyone’s sexuality is different
and people experience sexuality in
different ways. What is important
is that you look after and respect
your own and others’ sexuality and
sexual health.
Good sexual health means keeping
safe, looking after your body, having
healthy relationships and having
confidence and respect for yourself
and others. A big part of sexual
health is being able to talk to other
people about your sexuality, your
feelings and your emotions.
A big part of sexual health
is being able to talk to other
people about your sexuality,
your feelings and your
Feelings and emotions
During puberty hormones can make your feelings and
emotions more intense. There are easy things you can do
to help you deal with these new feelings and emotions:
Talk to someone you trust about
how you feel or ask them about
any questions or worries you
Try keeping a diary to write down
what you feel so it’s not bottled
up inside.
Having friends around you is
great and talking and spending
time with them really helps.
You can make new friends by
joining a club, a sports team or
Whether you’re having a
good day or a bad day what’s
important is that you feel
good about yourself. After
all, you’re pretty great! The
changes that are happening
to your body and your feelings
and emotions mean you’re
growing up.
Run about, read a book, play the
computer or listen to music.
Simple things can help: take part
in healthy activities, get a good
night’s sleep, be proud of the
good things you’ve done!
Body image
Making choices
You don’t need to look like a glamorous model to feel good
about yourself. Did you know that the pictures of bodies
and faces you see in magazines, TV and films are often
changed to make them look thinner or younger? You don’t
have to try and make yourself look older or sexy to feel
good. What’s most important is that you can be yourself.
There are lots of false messages out
there about how you should look
or behave, such as those found in
pornography or in some magazines.
There’s nothing wrong with asking
for help when you need it – talking
to someone about your worries and
concerns is one of the best things
you can do.
What you see isn’t real or accurate.
Real life bodies don’t look this way
and this isn’t really a true picture of
what sex is. In fact many people find
it offensive!
I’m the only girl in school who
doesn’t wear a bra – I feel like noone will ever fancy me. Sophie, 12
As you grow up there are lots of decisions to be made,
some small, some bigger. Having friends to talk to about
these really helps.
Sometimes it’s easy to feel like you
should do whatever your friends are
doing, however it’s important that,
whatever you decide, it’s what you
want to do.
Good friends won’t make you feel
bad for saying no or doing things
differently, and you might find that
you’re not the only one who feels
the same way.
If you feel like your friends are
always putting pressure on you to
do things you’re not happy with, talk
to someone you trust. Sometimes in
these situations it’s better to say no
and walk away, or find new friends
who like the same things as you do.
Body parts like your breasts,
penis and vulva are private.
Nobody has the right to touch
them or any other part
of your body in a way that
makes you feel uneasy
or when you don’t want them
to. If this happens to you, talk
to an adult that you trust
about it or call ChildLine for
free on 0800 1111.
During puberty bodies change and grow in
different ways so you and your friends will look
different. This doesn’t mean that no-one will
fancy you. Be confident, focus on the things
you like about your body and be happy with
who you are – people find that very attractive!
staying safe online
If you’re being bullied, don’t put up with it – it’s not
your fault. Talk to an adult you trust and get help to
make it stop.
Bullying is not just about
punching and kicking. There are
lots of different types of bullying.
Gossiping or spreading nasty
rumours in person, online or by
text message.
A lot of bullying happens by
text message or on-line. This is
called cyber-bullying.
Calling a person names or writing
nasty things about them.
Forcing someone to do something
that they don’t want to do.
Ignoring or leaving someone out.
For information on types of bullying,
or if you or someone you know is
being bullied visit
If you feel you have nobody you
can talk to, and need some help or
advice, you can also call ChildLine
for free on 0800 1111.
You’re probably on the internet loads. It’s such a brilliant
way to keep in touch with friends and family. Whether
you’re using messaging, chat rooms, social networks or
gaming it’s really important to stay as safe as possible.
Here are a few tips:
Never give out personal
information or put personal
information on social networking
Use a nickname rather than your
real name.
Remember you can block people
you don’t know and use privacy
settings to make sure only your
real friends can see what you post
If you see or read something
upsetting, or are worried about
anything, talk to an adult you trust,
like a parent or carer.
For more information on how to
stay in control and report problems
on the internet visit
You can never be sure who you’re
really talking to online, so never
arrange to meet face to face with
anyone you’ve met online.
Once you put something
online you can never get rid
of it – even when deleted,
it leaves a digital footprint.
Think carefully before you put
something online.
talk about it…
Talking about growing up and relationships can really help.
If you’re unsure about anything covered in this booklet –
talk it over with someone you feel comfortable with and
can trust.
There are many people who can
offer you good information and
A parent/carer
Someone you live with
A teacher
A youth or group leader
An older brother or sister
A good friend
Other people you can go to ask
questions or talk about how you
feel are:
ChildLine 0800 1111 or
www.thinkuknow.co.uk for more
information on how to stay in
control and report problems on the
Websites that can give you
information on puberty and
relationships are:
October 2012